First, it seems totally inconsistent with the idea that God is love. If God is love, wouldn’t God find a way to bring people everlasting joy and life instead? Second, is it really fair for finite mistakes or bad choices in this life to result in everlasting (eternal) punishment? The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Third, has everyone even had a fair chance to learn about God and Jesus? Do those people get sent to hell because they grew up in the wrong country where no one believes in Christianity?
Christianity (if true) is evil if you believe God sends people to hell.
Christianity can’t be true because it is a contradiction to claim both that God is loving and that he sends people to hell.
If God sends people to hell he must be angry and capricious.
It doesn’t make any sense for God to create a world with billions of people knowing that many of them are going to end up in hell.
Hell makes God a failure if so many of his beloved creatures end up in hell forever.
The discussion about hell could go in one of two directions;
Does God force people to go to Heaven?
What is Hell and where does it begin?
Do you think that God would force people who hate God and hate other people to go to Heaven? Would they want to be there?
God respects the dignity of people and their choices and won’t force anyone to be with him in eternity if they don’t want to.
God reveals himself in many ways including through creation, our conscience, as well as through the written Word, Scripture and through Jesus and people choose how they respond to this revelation.
God is loving but God is also just and holy. Would you be happy for a child molester to not go to jail? Should God say about Hitler, “Well, boys will be boys”?
How bad do you have to be to go to Hell?
Evil lies in the core of each person’s being.
It is as we understand the cross of Christ that we understand the extent of the evil within us. Jesus lived a sin free life then paid for our sin by taking it upon him self by his death. By his resurrection from the dead he over came the power of death, sin and Hell.
Why would any person refuse God’s offer to go to Heaven?
What do you think Hell is like?
The idea we often carry around in our heads about hell possibly comes more from Dante’s Inferno and art from the Middle Ages than from the Bible.
There are many images of hell in the Bible, but the clearest teaching is that hell is natural consequence of choices people make.
The essence of Heaven is a place where God is. The essence of Hell is the place where God is not. The best definition of hell is separation from God and therefore is terrible.
God does not send people to Hell. God honors our dignity and allows us to make a choice.
Those who put God at the center of their lives will have that extended into eternity.
Those who choose to reject God will have that extended into eternity also.
Whatever Hell is you do not want to go there. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection God made it possible for us to choose life with God today which extends into eternity.
Guidelines for Discussion
In any apologetic discussion, we need to listen closely and attempt to understand where the person is at the present time and where they are coming from. Often we need to listen more than talk. Our position should be that of wanting to know them and respond to their concerns rather than dump “answers” on them. We must maintain a stance of humility, of learning, free of arrogance and heartlessness. God “sending” people to Hell is huge to our Non Christian friends and probably the most frequently stated reason for not believing.
It is important to ask good questions of the person in order to understand where they are coming from, their experience in hearing/learning about Hell and what they think about it. There is often a need for us to ask for forgiveness on behalf of Christians for the way this topic has been communicated. And to maintain a stance and tone of grace and humility, acknowledging that but for God’s grace we would stand condemned before a Holy God.
In all apologetic discussions it is vital to live out a tone of wanting to hear and understand and to respond with the attitude of extending Jesus’ love to that person.
What has been your exposure to hearing and teaching about Hell?
What do you think Hell is like?
What do you think about God? What is he like?
How do you think your predetermined ideas about God and Hell affect how you consider the topics?
In what ways do you think differently from God?
How might his justice exceed your justice?
How do you respond to the fact that God gave us the freedom to follow or not to follow him?